If you are a follower of Briick by Briick or you have read our About Us page then you know I am working on my PhD. I am extremely interested in how society plays a role in the advancement of women, specifically into Executive Leadership. But as I have been reading about the advancement of women, something more has come to light. It isn’t just about how women are socialized by our society but how both genders fare. It really comes down to what we should be teaching boys and girls. Perhaps the bigger question is…
What are we teaching boys….. and girls?
This question really came to light when I learned of, and later was trained by Dan Griffin. Dan is the author of a number of books but the one that resonated the most for me was Helping Men Recovery. He co-authored this book with Dr. Stephanie Covington and Rick Dauer. It really caused me to consider, how we raise boys (and girls), what we are teaching boys and girls and why we could and should do it differently. (and yes I know I am using the S word “should”, but I really believe we must do things differently, so for me that is a SHOULD.)
There is just sooooo much to say about Dan’s work, and this space won’t do it justice, so I encourage you to like him on Facebook, check out his website, and follow along on his journey. The conversation is only beginning for men I believe. But, part of the conversation,the one I have most frequently with Dan is about “the rules”. “The Rules” of being a man and a woman in our society…and that is what brought me to my research and the question of what are we teaching boys….and girls.
The theoretical term for this is Social Role Theory. Basically it means that boys and girls (men and women) are socialized to believe certain things about the gender. Those things are common to the gender and are in part what prevent us from moving into certain roles in life, behaving in specific ways or how we respond in situations. In essence it is the “rules” that make us man and woman. They surround us at all given times and we aren’t even aware of their presence.
Now I realize what I may share with you may be “controversial” in your world….I assure you, I found it to be distressing….but as I have opened my eyes to the presence of this theory, of “the rules” and what we are teaching boys….and girls, I am becoming keenly attune to how I can do things differently.
Still not sure….think about it this way….you are looking at a toy magazine. Look at all the cute little toys for your cherub. Now I ask you to look a bit deeper…..why are all the cooking toys pink, why do they mostly show girls…..why are the firefighter costumes on boys…. how come the rocket launchers have pictures of boys….why do the dolls, doll houses, baking sets, batons show only girls in the pictures.
These are classic examples of how we are being socialized to believe (covertly and overtly) that men and women are best suited for specific roles (read professions or life stations). But wait didn’t we have a women’s movement, don’t men stay home with their kids, don’t we have same sex couples raising children? How can we possibly still be stuck in the men are breadwinners and women are homemakers this many years later. I don’t have the answer to that…not yet….that is what my research is exploring. More specific to my industry is this question and the basis of my research…..Why is it that in substance abuse treatment, women make up the largest employee base but such a small percentage of them are running the businesses?
I encourage you to visit often and read more of my research as I explore Social Role Theory. And as for the question
What Are We Teaching Boys?
Recently I asked followers on social media what we should be teaching boys and I got a litany of responses. The querie came after I stepped out of the shower one day and caught a glimpse of the toilet. My immediate reaction was “how can it be this dirty? I just cleaned it!” Here were the top responses from the question
- How to properly clean a toilet including the underside and base
- How to wash/fold/hang and put away laundry
- How to iron
- How to load and unload a dishwasher
- How to cook and clean up a meal prepared by and for themselves
- Table manners
Most of these comments were from women, so as you can see gender roles seem to prevail here. But if you look at the list, these are good lessons no matter the gender. Perhaps we are teaching our girls these things and not our boys. And it begs the converse question, “What Are We Teaching Girls?”
Check back as I write more about my research. I would love to know your thoughts.
What are some of the rules you live by that you would like to change? How have you been impacted by gender roles?